Music publisher Tempest Publishing sued Hacienda Records and Latin American Entertainment, alleging infringement of the copyrights to four musical works, including the song “Somos Dos Gatos,” in 2012.
Tejano music songwriters Joe Martinez and Lee Quirino signed a songwriters contract in 1992 granting exclusive rights in a song they composed, “Dos Gatos,” to Tessitura Music Trust. Tessitura then registered the song with the Copyright Office, as well as music licensing organizations BMI, ASCAP, and Harry Fox Agency. The song was recorded and released under the title “Somos Dos Gatos” by The Hometown Boys. Musica Adelena acquired Tessitura’s interest in “Dos Gatos” in 1993. Tempest then acquired all of Musica Adelena’s contracts and copyrights in 2000, including the copyright to “Somos Dos Gatos.”
Hacienda recorded and released an album titled Y Como le Hare by Conjunto Inizzio in 2008, which included a song that was similar to “Somos Dos Gatos.” Rick Garcia, the executive vice president in charge of licensing for Hacienda, found “Somos Dos Gatos” on BMI’s website and learned that Musica Adelena owned the copyright to the song. Garcia did not contact BMI or Harry Fox to obtain information for Musica Adelena, nor did he attempt to obtain a license to use “Somos Dos Gatos” before recording and distributing the album.
The court found that Hacienda knew “Somos Dos Gatos” was copyrighted, as Hacienda listed the composers and publisher of the song on its Y Como le Hare album cover. Even though Musica Adelena often granted licenses after an album’s release, Hacienda’s four-year delay in requesting a post-release license did not conform with industry practice.